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Oh, My Goodness!



Oh, my goodness!  You will not believe the summer I've had.  In May, I started a new job in a town that is on the other side of the Mississippi River ... from where I live!  You may have read about the Mississippi rising well above flood stage because of all the rain.  By the middle of June, in order to get to work, I was driving a highway that was cut down to one lane because the water had backed up over the road.  Eventually the road was closed and the bridge over the river was closed.  I ended up having a two-hour commute to and from work ... so I was driving 4 hours a day!  I did that for almost two months.

Needless to say, that really kept me from doing all the things I love to do in the summer.  As I look back, though, there were some great foodie highlights and a few nice family events.

My daughter is doing food demonstrations at the Murphysboro Farmers Market.  That is our little hometown and just a few miles from where we live.  Check out the videos of her demos on her special blog site Rooted in Foods.   Every other Saturday, she spends her morning at the Farmers Market, and she certainly has made new friends!


After all the years I've been cooking, I have actually been introduced to some new things at the little Farmers Market!  This cone shaped cabbage is called 'Caraflex".  It is also called arrowhead cabbage ... but it doesn't matter what it is called ... it is so good!  The cabbage is more loosely packed and more tender than our more familiar cabbage.  I think the flavor is a little sweeter, too.  It was delicious simply steamed and served with an easy cheese sauce.  My favorite cheese sauce remains the one that is a little Velveeta, milk and butter.  No need to thicken.   I'd love to find one of these cabbages at Christmastime!  I can think of all kinds of ways to dress it up to resemble a tree!


I didn't even think about getting out the canner this summer!  Everything I have have stored for later use has been put in the freezer!  I love beets and I especially love beets that have been intensified with orange!  I roasted these beets, added orange juice and orange zest ... ate a few and froze the rest.  You can take them right out of the freezer, pop them in the oven (or microwave) and they are delicious!


Everything in this Italian blend of vegetables came from the Farmers Market!  Cauliflower, carrots, zucchini and green beans and all the herbs, too!  I sprinkled oregano, basil, thyme and some garlic over the veges and roasted them.  Into vac packs ... into the freezer ... and I'll have a wonderful combination for Minestrone or any other Italian soup!  These vegetables are also delicious in a cream sauce ... mixed with cooked pasta and baked in a yummy casserole!


Miss Phoebe loves hot peppers!  When I saw a big bag of jalepenos at a roadside vegetable stand, I grabbed them.  We stuffed them with a cheese combination and roasted them on the BBQ grill!  They were scrumptious.  I mixed cream cheese, goat  cheese and cheddar ... stuffed them and placed them in a special pepper rack ... on the grill!



If you have never eaten carrots right out of the ground ... you've missed something.  I scrubbed these carrots, but didn't peel them.  The flavor is fantastic and we all know that you lose lots of nutrients when you peel them.  I roasted the carrots drizzled with olive oil and honey ... and sprinkled with shredded basil.  These were so good ... I made a couple more batches and froze them.  My plan is to turn them into delicious cream of carrot soup!



This picture of a little tabletop display on my front porch says it all!  Families ... Everything I do, I do for my family!  I'll share this post with a couple parties!  Make sure you click through to see more!






Kale Times Two!


KALE #ONE!

Stir-fried Kale with Pork


My hometown (Murphysboro, IL) has a reinvented farmers market that is going to be wonderful!  A group of very dedicated farm folks are doing a good job getting it started!

One of the vendors has fantastic kale and the sweetest red onions right now.  That made me want to share!  I've been eating kale for years ... before it was popular!  I'm a 21-year cancer survivor and my oncologist told me to eat lots of greens!  I've done that ... so much so ... the rest of the family thought I was crazy!

Today, I bought more kale, but I had a little bit left from last week ... so here is what I did.

I simply stir fried it with one of the little onions.  I let the onions start to caramelize, then removed it from the skillet.

My plan for this kale was to package it, freeze it and have it later for a quick lunch or supper.  My ingredients were simple ... kale, the onion, rice noodles and left-over roast pork.  The pork is very well seasoned with Paul Prudhomme's pork seasoning.  I didn't use any other seasoning on the kale. 



I let the greens cool, then quickly prepared a few rice noodles to add to the portions.  Chopped pork, kale/onions, and noodles went right in a FoodSaver bag.  Sealed and frozen!  I'll enjoy it later.  It is easily reheated in the microwave for a minute or so, or on the stove with a little water added.  So easy! 



KALE #TWO!

Kale Salad with Lemon Pomegranate Dressing


Fresh, sweet kale makes a really good salad.  This one holds up to refrigeration for a couple days and is actually better 'the next day'!

You can see all the ingredients, but here is what you need.

4 to 5 cups chopped kale
1 - 2 cups chopped broccoli
¼ cup sliced almonds
¼ cup of sunflower or pumpkin seeds
1 carrot shredded or chopped
½ cup chopped sweet onion
¼ cup raisins or dried cranberries

I used raisins this time and it is important to tell you that my raisins had been soaking in sherry for a couple weeks!  I found a dried up containers of raisins, so I just put them in a jar and covered them with sherry!  That makes this salad ... and everything else I use them for ... much better!



Don't the ingredients look pretty with the dressing?





The ingredients for the dressing just need to be combined by shaking them in a jar!

1/4 cup avocado oil
1/4 cup of pomegranate vinegar
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 tsp horseradish mustard
1 tsp garlic paste
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp honey


Toss the salad and store it in a covered container in the refrigerator until ready to serve!



I'll share this post with a couple blog parties, so make sure you click through to see the other posts, too!



Phoebe's Easter Tablescape!

Oh my goodness!  Phoebe asked if she could set and decorate the table for Easter.  Of course, I said YES!  She told me she had some pink flowers to use and something else.  I told her I would get out all the totes filled with 'stuff' and she could decorate!  That is the way we did it.


Phoebe brought this little grey fox to add to the table.  She told me her friend said a fox would be good for Easter!  She also brought this white milk glass vase that she bought at our favorite collectible shop last summer!  The silk flowers she brought to put inside are actually a bouquet that we gave her after a dance recital!  The first time Phoebe scribbled with a crayon ... I knew she had artistic talent.  This is developing in her own time and in her own fashion, but I'm delighted that tablescaping is part of it.  She enjoys staging photographs!


So .... here we go!  I'm just going to post pictures and few words!
Phoebe took plenty of pictures and we had a blast!




Often times, our centerpiece is actually an end piece.  There are just four of us at a big long table, so we enjoy doing that.


Here's Phoebe's whole table!  At one point she did ask where we were going to put the food, since there was no room in the middle of the table!  That was easy!



Enjoy these elements of the table!




Phoebe thought our tiny baskets needed to be filled, so she made sure each one had a leaf, flowers or a curled ribbon!



Here's a look at the place setting ... shiny spot and all!




We totally failed to photograph our food!  Here's the menu and there were two stars!  The fried artichoke hearts and the German Chocolate Pie that Nicole made!





I'll be sharing with a couple blog parties, so make sure you click through to see the other posts.  Hope your Easter was wonderful!


Easter Fireplace Mantel

I decorate our dining room fireplace mantel for every special meal!  It just becomes an extension of the table decor.  I've done this for years and folks seem to enjoy looking, so I'll keep doing it.  Memorial Day is the last decorating until autumn pumpkins, because we don't use the dining room much in the summer!  We eat outside!  You'll see that post in upcoming weeks, but for now ... here is a little more Easter!


I've mentioned my favorite collectible shop in many posts.  Our friends in Union County, Illinois worked diligently to raise money to restore an old store in the little town of Cobden.  They are members of the Union County Historical and Genealogy Society, and one side of the store is an incredible museum ... and the other side is the collectible shop that supports all their efforts.  Most recently, they purchased another building and are using it to store all their genealogy archives, have special collection exhibits and have classes and lectures.  This little collectible shop is doing a fantastic job for them.  We donate to the shop, but we buy plenty and our shiny mantel eggs and garland came from that little shop!


I embellished the garland with strands of sheer ribbon in a variety of colors!  I love the way it looks!  A little bit shabby, but the ribbon makes it fancy enough to blend well with the shiny eggs!

I'm sharing this post with a couple parties, so make sure you visit my list on my sidebar so you can hop to the parties!

Halo Bunny Easter!


My Halo Bunny Easter tablescape was built around this painting that I found at Kirklands.  As I shopped that day, I found something at Pier 1 that was perfect and a couple weeks later, I found bunnies at Tuesday Morning.  The remaining elements came from my closets and cabinets!


I was so surprised to find these straw bunnies in coral, yellow and sage green ... and of course I had a bag of plastic Easter eggs that matched those colors.



My place setting is a mixture of many things ... Pioneer Woman dinner plates atop Walmart place mats; Fostoria stemmed glasses from the 1980s; Cambridge flatware in perfect colors;  Pier 1 salad plates with the cutest bunny and squirrel!








This tablescape is all about SPRING with bright colors and flowers.  I'll share with a couple blog parties, so make sure you click through to see other party-goers!  Happy Spring!

The Warmest Italian Chicken



I live in Southern Illinois and in the spring and fall, we can have a 75 degree day ... then a 40 degree day!  Today, it is cold when it should be warm, so it is a perfect day for a "one-potter".  My husband was the king of one-potters!  That was his favorite way to prepare comfort food and probably his favorite to eat!  He loved this.

There are two things that make this recipe better than any other time I've prepared it.  I used bread crumbs made with a couple stale Hawaiian (sweet) slider buns, and I used imported cherry tomatoes.


The recipe for Italian Chicken with Peas, Potatoes and Tomatoes is easy.  You begin with simple ingredients including 4 thin chicken breast portions; 1 can of stewed, diced or whole tomatoes; a few tiny yellow potatoes; and a handful of frozen green peas.  I used dried Italian spices, fresh dill, and fresh thyme.


You simply begin by mixing and egg and some water, dipping the chicken in it, then dredging the chicken in bread crumbs mixed with a couple tablespoons of flour and a teaspoon of dried Italian herbs.  Gently fry them in olive oil.  Remove them from the skillet and add the tomatoes with their liquid, another can full of water, the potatoes, a big sprig of dill and a couple sprigs of thyme.  Bring that to a simmer, put the lid on and cook until the potatoes are done.  Then you add the chicken back to the skillet, add the frozen peas, put the lid back on and simmer another ten minutes.  After turning off the burner, the final step is to put a piece of provolone cheese on each breast, replace the lid and let the heat melt the cheese.


It is delicious.  I'll share with a couple blog parties so make sure you click through to see other posts.



The Easter Tree!


I have a piece of furniture ... a work bench ... that my husband built for himself several years ago. I was actually amazed when it was finished because it has a highly polished finish on it and actually matches much of the rustic furnishing we have in our house.  I say 'we', but Joe has been gone for almost 8 years.  What to do with his work bench?  That remained a question for a couple of years, but I eventually decided it deserved a special place in our home and should not be hidden away in the 'craft room'.  I moved it around a bit, but finally found the perfect spot.  It sits in the kitchen and it is no longer a work bench.  It is much more fun to decorate it for holidays than to work at it!  I consider all those vignettes as tributes to a man who enjoyed family and holidays.

Joe thought I was crazy the first year I kept a little Christmas tree up after Christmas and said I planned to decorate it for each holiday.  Later in the year, he became genuinely interested in how I would change it and even suggested things like "lilacs for spring ... sunflowers for summer".  I have a small tree on his work bench that I change with the seasons.

Here's the 2019 Easter tree!

 I know ... you can't really see the Christmas tree!  That is the whole idea.


The little plastic baskets remind me of things from my childhood, but they are not that old!  The butterfly was a gift from a friend when I hit 20 years cancer-free!  Bird nests filled with eggs, silk flowers and a few other things are added to galvanized string lights and some ornaments that remain since Christmas!


The little ceramic bunnies sit at the base of the tree ... with a few inspirational quotes!  I'm into words!


A vintage basket joins a new rabbit picture and ceramic birds ... sitting atop a wooden fruit basket.


Lastly, I added some of the new Pioneer Woman jade dinnerware to the vignette.  I bought this because it looks almost exactly like my collection of Fire King Jadite!  I'll show you how much ... in a post later on!  Hope you are ready for Easter ... or hope you are getting ready!  I'll share this post with a couple parties, so check my sidebar and click through.






Mary Queen of Scots Dinner Menu Booklet

Grandma Debbie's Christmas 2018

Grandma's Blue & Green Pupkins!

Autumn at Grandma Debbie's